The first time I cut my hair, I was terrified to let anyone know. Thankfully I am Muslim so people seeing me with a headscarf would not raise any sort of suspicion. The problem was my mum and then friends and sisters.
Everyone (okay, almost everyone) knew I was (I didn’t even realize that I used a past tense here) obsessed with my hair. I have a journal that I have kept since 2012. I dreamed of having luscious hair that fell to my back and I kept trying different routines and products hoping to find the one thing that would be my ticket.
The things that stuck were washing my hair a least twice in a month, deep conditioning after every wash, applying heat only when extremely necessary, applying relaxer every 16 weeks, moisturizing and oiling my hair at least twice a week and of course I made my hair myself most of the time because I was scared for my front hair. Still my hair didn’t grow as fast I envisioned and every time, I combed it, I was alarmed at the amount of hair left on my comb. I would do a length check after relaxer touch-up and the length retention was not uniform. Despite the fact that my hair grew quite fast and no matter what, I quite never managed to grow my hair past my shoulder blades. I was in despair. Was I doomed to never have waist length hair? My mother believed that I washed my hair too frequently. My great-grand mother was Tutsi and had glorious hair. I inherited her thick hair but not its length. My mum said it’s probably because my lineage had been corrupted by Bantu blood.
But I had seen Nigerian women who had managed to grow waist length hair and maintain the length. Was there some secret these influencers left out when the posted their hair care routine? I never gave up hoping that someday my dream would come through. Then I got heartbroken. (Story for another day). I didn’t think self-harming was a possibility till then. But I was too vain to hurt myself because I was one of those people whose skin didn’t heal quickly. I still have the scars from an accident I had as a one-year-old. And I was not ready to explain to anyone how I got the scars. I had been toying with the idea of cutting my hair but I was horrified of losing my precious mane. Then I went to the salon to get a relaxer job done and my hair got ruined. I cried. Three days later, on the 12th of March 2017, I stood in front of the mirror after having my bath in the evening and looked at myself. Like a trance, I reached for a pair of scissors and snipped away at the life-support machine that was my hair. I have cut it once more after that time and as much as it is a terrifying experience, it has left me liberated.
PS: I cut it after two years and this time around, I dyed it!!
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Halimah is a firm believer that the education and empowerment of women are essential tools for lasting peace and progress in our society and that women should be allowed to pursue whatsoever path they choose. Born and raised in Nigeria, she has been described as "outspoken,energetic and diligent". Her passion for social change has led her to volunteer at a number of organizations that are passionate about having a tangible impact on society. Halimah currently works as an Assistant lecturer at the Department of Library and Information Technology,Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria. She hopes to establish a mentoring program to provide young girls and women with proper guidance to make informed choices aimed at personal fufillment. She relaxes by reading and watching movies.